Assume there is a contract that was typed on a computer then printed out, and only one party needs to sign it. Examples of such contracts are "sign here to show it's ok for us to contact your references". If a person crossed out part of the contract before signing it, is the contract still valid? Does it matter if they initial any modifications? Here's an example:

This is a legally binding contract.

  1. You agree to having a background check done
  2. You will disclose all information about your past employers
  3. You will eat a rubber duck for breakfast

To agree to these terms, sign bellow:

Applicant signature:

If I crossed out 3. then signed, is it still valid? Does it matter if I initialed? If there already is your signature on the same page do you still need to initial it?

1 Answer 1


Offer and Acceptance

What you have been presented with is an offer; by signing it unamended you accept the other party's offer and create a legally binding contract.

If you amend it and sign it you have made a counter-offer that is now open for the other party to accept. There is no contract until they do.

Two points to remember:

  1. Making a counter-offer ends the original offer: it is no longer open to you to accept the original offer.
  2. Offers may be accepted by actions: if you make a (counter-)offer and the other party acts like they have accepted it (e.g. by doing the things the contract would require of them) then it is likely that the offer has been accepted and a contract formed. Many disputes lie along this path - see battle of the forms.


There is no need for an offer, an acceptance or a contract to be signed by anyone. There is not even a need for them to be written down.

If you go into the supermarket and put their goods on the cashier's counter, you have made an offer to buy those goods at the price the supermarket has advertised. The supermarket accepts your offer by scanning the groceries and putting them in a bag. The contract is completed when you hand over your money.

  • Sometimes the supermarket makes a counter offer, if an item was incorrectly priced. And if they make a counter offer "the can of beans is $0.99, not $0.49" then you can make a counter offer by saying "in that case I don't want the can of beans".
    – gnasher729
    Sep 23, 2018 at 7:53
  • 3
    @gnasher729 in that case, they have made a counter offer which you have rejected.
    – Dale M
    Mar 8, 2019 at 21:41

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